Ho Chi Minh City needs more private schools to reduce the number of students per class and focus more on individual learning, according to the municipal Department of Education and Training.
Speaking at a recent conference, department Director Huynh Cong Minh said the city needed bigger, better schools. To that end, he said the department wanted to accommodate investors interested in establishing private schools.
"If investors have a lot of land, we're willing to create good conditions for them to open schools," Minh said.
The city still needs more private schools even though the number of non-state institutions in the city had doubled in the last three years, he added.
As such, he said the department was willing to do what it takes to attract investors into the private school sector.
The city government will provide domestic school investors with 100 percent interest rate subsidies for loans worth a maximum of VND100 billion (US$5.6 million), chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City Investment Fund for Urban Development, Ngo Kim Lien, said at the conference.
For loans worth more than VND100 billion, the city will consider interest rate subsidies at different levels, Lien added.
Do Anh Tuan, a representative of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, said the city wanted investors to build colleges and universities in districts outside the main city centers.
Minh said his department was aiming to transform schools in the city into purveyors of what he called "Advanced Education" by 2020.
He said an Advanced Education was one in which students attended school for two sessions a day in classes that ranged from 25 to 30 members each. Currently, most Vietnamese secondary and high school students attend class either in the morning or afternoon. The new initiative would make both sessions mandatory.
Minh said the department would soon ask schools to gradually reduce the number of students per class to maximum 30, compared with an average of 50 at present. Another key goal would be to change teaching methodology from a style geared toward teaching a large number of students to one that focuses on teaching individuals, he said.
Advanced Education also required teachers to instill self-study abilities in their students, Minh said, adding that all classes would need access to good equipment that makes it easy for students to learn and easy for teachers to teach.
He said that Advanced Education aims to produce students with analytical skills and the ability to apply the knowledge gained in school to real life situations.
Most students in Vietnam learn their lessons by heart, but Minh said the lessons had virtually no practical applications in everyday life situations.
The initiative would also encourage schools to pay higher salaries and make English studies mandatory. Minh said he was worried that schools would not find good teachers without higher salaries.
International school inspection
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training would soon begin inspecting international schools in the city, said Minh.
He said many schools that advertised themselves as "international" without meeting official requirements needed to be punished.
An international school must use curricula from foreign countries and grant internationally-recognized diplomas or degrees, he said.
He said only 10 such schools in the city met the official requirements.